Spanning the boreal forests of the North to the prairie lands of the South, Minnesota hosts a broad spectrum of Birds of Prey. This array of avian predators, including eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls, grace the Minnesotan skies and landscapes with their power and grace. Their sharp talons, keen vision, and hunting proficiency are emblematic of the untamed spirit of the state’s wilderness.
List of Birds of Prey in Minnesota
Red-tailed Hawk: Found throughout Minnesota, often seen soaring over open fields and perched along roadways.
Sharp-shinned Hawk: Regularly seen during migration in Minnesota’s North Shore, particularly around Hawk Ridge.
Cooper’s Hawk: These are frequent visitors to backyard feeders across the state.
Red-shouldered Hawk: Often spotted in mixed woodlands near water, such as Itasca State Park.
Broad-winged Hawk: Common throughout the state during the breeding season, they are particularly prominent at Hawk Ridge during fall migration.
Swainson’s Hawk: This hawk is a summer resident of grasslands and agricultural fields in western and southern Minnesota.
Rough-legged Hawk: Winter visitors to Minnesota, particularly the open country of the western and southern parts of the state.
Osprey: Regularly seen near bodies of water. Notable nesting locations include the Twin Cities metro area and along the Mississippi River.
Great Horned Owl: Widespread across Minnesota and can be found in various habitats from cities to forests.
Barred Owl: Common in forested areas, especially in the north and east of the state. Try looking in Voyageurs National Park.
Eastern Screech-Owl: These small owls can be found across the state, often in wooded suburban areas.
Snowy Owl: Winter visitors from the arctic tundra, often seen along the North Shore and in open agricultural areas.
Great Gray Owl: Can be spotted in the northern boreal forests, such as those in Superior National Forest.
American Barn Owl: Extremely rare in the state, the best chance to spot one is in southwestern Minnesota’s prairies.
Burrowing Owl: These small owls can be found in western Minnesota, particularly around the town of Worthington.
Northern Saw-whet Owl: Most common in northern Minnesota’s forests, particularly around Sax Zim Bog.
Short-eared Owl: Prefers open grasslands, such as those found at Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge.
Peregrine Falcon: Nesting pairs can be found in urban areas, including Minneapolis and St. Paul.
American Kestrel: Found statewide, often seen perched on telephone lines in open country.
Prairie Falcon: A winter visitor to the grasslands of southwestern Minnesota.
Bald Eagle: Can be seen statewide, particularly near large bodies of water. The National Eagle Center in Wabasha is a great place to learn more.
Turkey Vulture: Widespread in the southern part of the state, often seen soaring on thermals. The town of Makato hosts a significant summer population.
- Other hawks which are rare visitors to Lake superior include the northern goshawk, the northern harrier and Ferruginous hawks.
Where to Spot Minnesota’s Birds of Prey
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, Duluth: Known for its spectacular hawk migration, this observatory is a premier spot to see a variety of hawks, eagles, and falcons, especially during the fall season.
Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, Zimmerman: This refuge’s mix of habitats attracts a variety of birds of prey. You can spot Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, and several owl species in the area.
Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge, Thief River Falls: Located in the aspen parkland region of northwest Minnesota, this refuge provides habitats for a variety of birds of prey including Northern Harriers, Red-tailed Hawks, and Great Horned Owls.
Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, Rochert: Covering more than 42,000 acres, this refuge offers excellent birding opportunities, including spotting raptors like Bald Eagles, hawks, and a variety of owls.
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Bloomington: Located in the heart of the Twin Cities metro area, this refuge is a good spot to observe birds of prey such as Red-tailed Hawks, Bald Eagles, and Cooper’s Hawks.
The land of ten thousand lakes, Minnesota, is a haven for numerous raptors. Witness the tenacity of North Dakota’s Feathered Predators, symbolic of the Roughrider State’s rugged charm. Venture east to admire the adaptability of Wisconsin’s Birds of Prey. To learn more about these birds, check out our Birds of Prey Guide.